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Gaming History You Should Know – The History of Rogers: The Musical April 1, 2022

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Happy April Fool’s Day! No one could ever forget where they were during the events of the Battle of New York, where the Earth survived its first-ever alien invasion due to the heroic intervention of a Billionaire, a Norse God, The World’s Greatest Archer, The World’s Greatest Assassin, a gamma-irradiated supergenius, and a WWII-era super soldier. We’ve come to know them as The Avengers and for the past decade they’ve been Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, capable of fighting the battles we never could. Personally, I’ve lost track of the amount of times they’ve saved the world, either individually or as a group, so you’ll forgive me for glossing over their reputation. I for one am just grateful for their service.

Following the events of The Blip and The Battle of Earth, which saw the tragic deaths of Iron Man, Black Widow and Captain America, The Avengers have all but dissolved. In the time since the Battle of Earth, video game adaptations of The Avengers’ exploits continue to live on with the phenomenal Ultimate Alliance series, and the upcoming Spider-Man and Wolverine games by Insomniac. But recently, there has been a different kind of adaptation over the past year, the Tony-Award Winning Megablockbuster, Rogers: The Musical. Based on the life of the late Steve Rogers, who we know as Captain America, the musical has been a tremendous success setting ticket records Broadway hadn’t seen in years.

YouTube Channel Wait in the Wings, which we’ve featured before on this website, did a phenomenal history video on one of the greatest musicals ever made. How do you create such a masterpiece when half your production staff disappear for five years? To say it was an Avengers-Level challenge would be an understatement.

Gaming History You Should Know – History of Computer Smartwatches March 27, 2022

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It’s Sunday and what better day to kick off the restart of GameXcess.net than to celebrate with another look back at the history of gaming! This is Gaming History You Should Know, where we highlight and share some of the best independently produced content on the history of gaming.

Nowadays, everyone is rocking some type of computer watch, be it an Apple Watch or Gear device. Most of these have full color displays, are capable of wireless data transmission, and keep track of time, alarms, appointments, and even health biometrics. Some of them are even able to play games! (Apple Watch gamers, I recommend Lifeline, Lifeline: Silent Night, and Cosmos Rings as must-play games!)

However, before the Apple Watch found its way on nearly everyone’s wrist, there were many other attempts, some by major companies, to sell computer watches to consumers’. So where did all of this begin, at least as far as consumers are concerned? Fear not, YouTube Legend Techmoan has us covered with a look at what I’m pretty sure is the first consumer level computer watch. It was not cheap, and it was likely meant to be used by wealthy pilots, lawyers and other businessmen, but it had incredible features and the ability to do time-based calculations that I haven’t even seen modern smartphones capable of doing! I present…the HP-01!

Unfortunately the HP-01 was way before my time. When I was growing up, I fondly remembered the classic CASIO wrist calculator watches my father would never go anywhere without. In the days before I got my first Game Boy, the fact my dad could do calculations on his wrist was something incredible. While I did eventually get a CASIO of my own, I had no idea CASIO and other companies like them released several revisions of LCD watches with a bit more of a gaming focus. Seriously.

YouTube channel Nostalgia Nerd, who I remember fondly for his knowledge of British Microcomputers, produced this great look at some of the more obscure calculator watches. Some of these just blew my mind with how they were able to innovate with the tech of the time. Heck, some of these used infrared transmitters to not just swap information, but to play multiplayer games against each other. Check it out!

Finally, I wanted to talk about one of the most obscure designs for a watch that harkened back to the days of Palm. Now that Palm figured out the most basic functions a tech enthusiast needed on the go (calendar, address book, clock, alarms), the watch maker TIMEX made the evolutionary step to put a PDA in a high-end watch. To sync, you merely needed some software that could transmit your settings and features through your CRT’s blanking signal (or a separate transmitter if you used a laptop). Sound insane? YouTube channel LGR has that part covered.

Gaming History You Should Know – Video Game Lost Media January 9, 2022

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It’s Sunday, and that means it’s time for us to once again discuss Gaming History You Should Know. Recently, I’ve been impressed by the deep documentaries produced by YouTube Channels like BlameitonJorge and All Things Lost, where they have gone into deep searches for obscure media. In fact, we even did our own lost media search last week. However, I’m sure you’ve seen that there have been much more of video game related content that is considered lost. This title can be bestowed on content that has either been finished and withheld from release or released before the opportunity for archiving

First off, we’re going to highlight one of the biggest franchises in the world, Pokémon. Due to the fact it has been releasing games, movies, toys, television shows and spin-off games for twenty-five years. YouTube Channel PaPaSec has created what is probably one of the tightest videos I’ve seen about the most well-known Pokémon lost media. Check it out!

Next up, we’re going to highlight the work of the adorable YouTube Channel Sakura Stardust. In this video, she talks about some of the most obscure lost Pokémon media. How obscure is some of this? I’ve been following Pokémon for years and I hadn’t even HEARD of some of this stuff. Enjoy.

Moving on from Pokémon, let’s talk about another classic game franchise, Sonic the Hedgehog. YouTube Channel All Things Lost, one of the best Lost Media channels on the web, has us covered. He highlights some of the lost media and incomplete Sonic games that have not been archived. Sonic X-Treme is not featured, as it has been found.

So that was just the tip of the iceberg for some video game content that is currently considered lost. I’m sure in the future we will have another article like this, so until next time, Happy New Year!

Gaming History You Should Know – Springboard: The First Smartphone December 19, 2021

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I know what you’re thinking, we already had a Gaming History You Should Know earlier in the week. Merry Christmas, here’s a bonus article that was too good to save for later!

Back in the late 90s and early 00s, Portable Digital Assistants (PDAs) were the go-to option for people who needed a digital device on their person. A PDA, like the famous Palm Pilot, could keep digital notes, addresses, schedule, and some of the later models were even capable of mobile e-mail. However, unlike today’s smartphones (which can also do all of that) you couldn’t make a call with a PDA. If you wanted to make a call on the go, you’d need to pull your cell phone out of a different pocket to make that call.

The original founders of Palm knew that the future of PDAs would require the ability to make calls. However, Palm’s owners and the cell phone providers at the time disagreed, preferring to keep business as usual until time itself ended. So, Palm’s owners left the company and formed a new one, Handspring. The rest of that story is the subject of today’s history lesson.

The guys over at The Verge just produced this fantastic documentary on the history of Handspring. In it, they interview some of the company founders, dig deep into the products the company released, and talk about the enduring legacy of the smartphone. Check it out!

Gaming History You Should Know – Where Did Street Fighter’s Hadouken Come From December 17, 2021

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I know it isn’t Sunday yet, but this was too good a scoop to not talk about. One of the most famous fighting moves in the history of video games is the Hadouken from Street Fighter. When done correctly by a trained artist like Ken or Ryu, the move allows its wielder to throw a ball of fire out of their hands towards their opponent.

Of course, in real life the Hadouken doesn’t exist…or does it? Sadly, there is no known way to actually perform a fighting move that will enable you to create fire out of nothing. However, we have seen in the game Ken and Ryu both perform a very distinctive move with their hands before the fire is thrown. Does that move have any basis in real martial arts? YouTube historian Mr. Dan, host of Art of One Dojo, has gotten to the bottom of this age old question. He was able to interview the legendary Johnpaul Williams, who was used as the model for the original arcade games. During this interview, we’ve discovered the real history of the iconic move. Guys, we’ve been doing it wrong this whole time.

Street Fighter games are out now on multiple platforms including the arcade.

Gaming History You Should Know – History of TRON October 10, 2021

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It’s Sunday! Time for another Gaming History You Should Know, where we highlight some of the best independently produced videos about the making of video games. Today, I know we’re going to talk about a movie but I can assure you if you stick with me this story will get back to gaming.

Known for its animated classics like Snow White, Pinocchio and Cinderella, no company is more recognized in the US for groundbreaking animation as the Disney studio. However, following the death of its founder, and a decade before Disney started taking over theaters with incredible successes like Lion King and Aladdin, Disney was in a rut. The studio had weathered several theatrical flops, and would need to weather several more.

It may seem like a hopeless time, but for creative companies, being down can get them to take some more unusual risks. In the early 80s, a man named Steven Lisberger was making a name for his company working on a new type of light infused animation that used photo gels on animation cells to create a “glow” effect. At the same time, personal computers were starting to take off, and it was becoming common for nearly every office space to require interacting with a computer.

At the time, computers were dark and mysterious things to the general public and most of the contemporary Sci-Fi stories foretold computers bringing about the end of mankind. However, Steven Lisberger became interested in telling a story about just what was going on INSIDE the computer. He theorized the programs we created would be a lot like us, and they may in fact view us in the same way we would perceive a great creator. In the end, he convinced Disney to create one of the most technologically groundbreaking film of the time, TRON.

Toy Galaxy, who is famous for talking about some of the cult classic shows from the 80s and 90s, did their most recent video about TRON. It talks about the inspiration behind the film, its reception at the time and the film’s enduring legacy.

Man, I really wish TRON 2.0 was still canon.

Gaming History You Should Know – Sir Clive Sinclair September 26, 2021

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It’s Sunday, welcome back to another Gaming History You Should Know, where we highlight some of the best independently produced documentaries across the web about the history of games. If you followed the news this past week, you may have learned that we recently lost one of the original pioneers of home PC gaming, Sir Clive Sinclair. If you are a British visitor to this website the name above may be a bit more familiar. Sir Clive was of a mind that personal computers should be cheap and readily available to everyone. While this philosophy sounds great on paper, anyone with computing background will tell you that if you are sourcing cheaper parts, you will sacrifice either quality or performance. In the case of the Sinclair computer, while it wasn’t as robust as a Commodore 64 or Apple II, nor could it have as good a performance as either, its lower price made it a good choice for young people to use as their first PC.

Before we talk about the man, I want to talk a bit about the machines that bore his name. Here’s a video produced by the 8-Bit Guy, who talked about the Sinclair computers. He mostly highlights the computers that made their way over to the US, but they are fairly comparable to the more common UK units. I honestly had never experienced using these machines back in the 80s, so this is a great video to watch them in action.

Next we are going to talk about the man behind the machine, and also about the impact the man and the machine had on so many people. Here’s the work of Computerphile, a channel I appreciate for their detailed documentaries about computer history. In this special video, they interviewed many people from the classic gaming community to share their thoughts about the Sinclair platform and about their experiences with the man himself. Enjoy.

Rest In Peace, Sir.

Gaming History You Should Know – Making of Jurassic Park Trespasser September 19, 2021

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Welcome back to Gaming History You Should Know, where we highlight some of the best independently produced documentaries on the web focused on gaming. Today, we’re going to be talking about one of the most beloved franchises of all time, Jurassic Park.

Most people remember the fact Jurassic Park had several film sequels over the years including The Lost World, Jurassic Park III and Jurassic World. However, those same people probably have no idea that there was an officially canonical sequel to Jurassic Park in the form of a video game, Jurassic Park: Trespasser. Set after the events of The Lost World, the game features the talents of Lord Richard Attenborough and Minnie Driver. The game follows Anne, played by Minnie Driver, as she finds herself marooned on Site B, the same location featured in The Lost World and Jurassic Park III. While there, guided by her memory of John Hammond’s recently published memoirs (which are narrated by the actor himself during gameplay), the player must help Anne escape the island. The game offers a deeper look at Site B and further insight into Jurassic Park’s lore that I still consider canon to this day. Heck, Steven Spielberg himself even contributed to some of the game’s design.

With all that behind it, why doesn’t anyone talk about the game? Valve even admitted it was a huge inspiration for Half-Life 2. The problem was the game was a nearly unplayable mess filled with plenty of game-breaking bugs. Reviews of the game, even at the time it was released, were not kind and the Jurassic Park name alone was only so helpful when it came to actual sales.

I vaguely remember hearing about the game shortly around the time of its release. I remember being intrigued by the demo, but as a High School student with no personal income I was never able to snag a copy. However, after reading the finished game’s negative reviews I lost most of my motivation to get it. Years later, I found an incredible Let’s Play on the internet archive by Research Indicates, and I saw for myself that while the game was clearly wonky with a lot of unresolved technical issues, it’s story, combined with RI’s commentary, absolutely drew me in. Seriously, I ended up staying up all night once because I had to watch him play through every single level.

So what is the history of this game, how was it made and what about it was so groundbreaking? YouTube creator Kim Justice produced this full documentary about the creation of Jurassic Park: Trespasser I can’t recommend enough. Give it a watch below and see for yourself.

Jurassic Park: Trespasser is out now exclusively for the PC.

Gaming History You Should Know – Halo 2: The Road To Glory August 29, 2021

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Sunday has arrived, and now it’s time to bring back another Gaming History You Should Know, where we highlight some of the best independently produced gaming documentaries across the web. Today, instead of focusing on a documentary about a game or game franchise, we’re going to look at something that was focused particularly on the people who call themselves fans.

Earlier this week, Microsoft announced the official release date of the next major game in the Halo series, Halo: Infinite, and while the hype levels for the game have been a bit under the radar due to the game’s longer than expected development time Halo has always had a major fan base excited for each new game. In fact, I cannot under-describe just how big a deal the release of Halo 2 was back in November 2004, and that was just the second game in the series. Halo: Combat Evolved was an incredible game and between 2002-2004, players were going crazy waiting for its sequel, which promised online multiplayer.

I picked up Halo 2 at midnight on its release night, and can attest how excited the crowd was. A few months later, I caught the announcement on the Halo fansite Halo.Bungie.Org about an upcoming film called Halo 2: The Road to Glory, which was going to be about the agonizing wait a group of Halo fans were enduring anticipating the release of Halo 2. The film was directed by Noah Gallop, who went under the gaming name Mortalis, and was released in 2005, a few months after the release of Halo 2. It also featured interviews with Noah’s friends, and had a cameo by the late Knuckles Dawson.

I was one of the lucky people who was able to brave the (shudder) BitTorrent release and watch the film back when it first released. Of course, that is no longer an option and I had no idea if his documentary would ever make an appearance in other mediums like YouTube. Thankfully, one of the people who appeared in the doc, Barbara Molt, was nice enough to put it on their YouTube Channel. It’s a great watch, if just as a time capsule for early Halo fandom.

I was actually able to get in touch with the film’s director about a decade ago to express to him how much his film meant to me, but sadly we lost touch shortly afterwards. I hope he’s doing well. In fact, The Road to Glory inspired several videos I’ve made over the past few years particularly my Halo 4 fan documentary, Waiting for Halo 4.

Halo 2 is out for the Xbox and PC.

Gaming History You Should Know – Epic Mickey: What Might Have Been August 8, 2021

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It’s Sunday, and that means it’s time for yet another Gaming History You Should Know, where we share some of the most interesting videos we’ve found across the web detailing the history of games.

Mickey Mouse has been an enduring figure of popular culture ever since he first appeared in the short film Steamboat Willie. Since the advent of gaming, he has appeared in countless video games (of varying quality). In 2009, Disney Interactive made a huge push for a new type of game lead by Game God Warren Spector, Epic Mickey. Despite favorable reviews, an original art style, and decent sales, the franchise eventually dissolved following a disappointing sequel.

Nowadays, everyone barely remembers the franchise, and most of Mickey’s gaming fans returned to playing the Kingdom Hearts games. But did you know, before they pulled the plug, Disney was banking on delivering a lot more Epic Mickey games? I didn’t. DidYouKnowGaming, who is legendary for being one of the biggest references on the internet for game history trivia, produced this fantastic in-depth dive into the history of the games’ development, and what we lost following the closure of Junction Point. Check it out.

Disney’s Epic Mickey is out now for the Wii. Epic Mickey 2 is out now for the Wii U, PS3 and Xbox 360.